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The Loop

LPGA Player of the Year scenarios take shape

November 19, 2009

RICHMOND, Texas -- For the first time since 1994, the LPGA Player of the Year race is coming down to the last tournament. Lorena Ochoa got off to a great start Thursday with a 66, at Houstonian Golf & Country Club, four strokes better than Jiyai Shin, whom Ochoa trails by eight in the POY points race. For Ochoa to become a four-time Rolex Player of the Year, she would need to win this week at the LPGA Tour Championship or register at least a third-place finish and have Shin earn zero points.

Cristie Kerr, who was playing late, still has a better-than-outside chance to become the first American to win the award since 1994 when Beth Daniel took the honor. The only scenario under which Kerr could win POY would be to win the season-ending event, have Shin earn no points -- which means finishing outside the top 10 -- and have Ochoa finish no better than fourth. Going into the Tour Championship, Shin had 156 points, Ochoa 148 and Kerr 127. Points are award thusly:

1 - 30

2 - 12

3 -  9

4 -  7

5 -  6

6 -  5

7 -  4

8 -  3

9 -  2

10 -  1

No Korean has been LPGA Player of the Year, nor has a Korean won the money title - not even the godmother of Korean golf Se Ri Pak. Shin  has already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year race and the money title. She would become only the second player - joining Nancy Lopez -- to win Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year in the same season. Six players born in Korea have been LPGA Rookie of the Year: Pak (1998); Mi Hyun Kim (1999); Hee-Won Han (2001); Shi Hyun Ahn (2004); Seon Hwa Lee (2006) and now Shin. Angela Park, a Korean born in Brazil, was Rookie of the Year in 2007.

-- Ron Sirak